Container Gardening


Gardening on your bucket list? If so, there’s a good chance it’s the only item you can actually fulfill with a bucket. Your green-thumbed aspirations will be limited only by how much space you’ve got and the number of vessels you can scrape up—a single end-table radish is just as noble an endeavor as a whole army of lettuce. It’s all up to you.

There’s a bit of an initial investment, but it’ll provide a great long-term return once you put a little time and effort into keeping those veggies happy. But before you go out and hunt for supplies, you’ve gotta know if you’ve got the right environment.

Sunlight – and plenty of it – is essential to any garden. Most plants need at least six hours of it a day, and south-facing windows are a good place to start. If your dwelling is window-deficient, you can supplement with fluorescent light or a grow light, but direct sun is best.

Containers. The name of the game. Pick ones to fit your space—some plants need lots of growing room, but even for ones that don’t, find the biggest container that’ll fit, because more soil means less watering. Containers should all have drainage holes and saucers underneath. Clay pots work great because they absorb excess moisture to prevent rotting and they’re cheap!

Potting media. A soilless potting mix made up of other fibrous organic matter and enriched with nutrients is ideal. Lightweight regular potting mix combined with seed starter is also a good choice. For indoor spaces, don’t use outdoor soil unless you like bugs populating your home

Plant choice. If you’re gardening outdoors, you’ll have room for bigger pots, and bigger plants. But indoors, where space is limited, some veggies do better than others, like:

  • Loose-leaf Lettuce – Gardeners call this cut-and-come-again lettuce since once you cut it, it will grow back. This doesn’t include lettuce that grows in a compact head like iceberg.
  • Arugula – Super-peppery green, great with light dressing.
  • Herbs, like basil, chives, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Grow in an herb garden, never buy them again.
  • Radishes – Earthy, cooling. Perfect on street-style tacos.
  • Green onions (aka scallions) – Put the roots in water and they’ll regenerate indefinitely. Free scallions forever!

Outdoor veggies grow bigger and need bigger pots and more sunlight. You could potentially grow them indoors if you’ve got the room (and big windows).

  • Beets – Roast ’em, pickle ’em, or make some borscht!
  • Carrots – You know what to do with carrots.
  • Peppers – All varieties. Useful for everything. Hot, hot, hot!
  • Eggplant – Need lots of heat to grow.
  • Bush tomatoes or cucumbers – Always use support: cages, stakes, trellises.
  • Zucchini – Grow ’em in little one-foot mounds of dirt.
  • Potatoes – They’ll grow in anything, even hay!

On watering and care: Check your plants a lot. Water and fertilizer are essential, but too much of a good thing will kill your plants. Seed packets and plant packaging tell you exactly what they need! Save them in a little folder if you need a reminder—the plants will thank you for taking the time to learn their needs. With food.

If your desire to grow your own food is bigger than the space you’ve got, you can still make it work! It just takes time, planning, patience… and containers.